OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — As Joe Gaddis heads into his 18th season as the Oak Ridge Wildcats’ head football coach, he sings a familiar song. While he has seen positive progress during the offseason, he knows that his team’s true colors won’t fully show until Friday nights this fall.
The Wildcats are coming off a 10-3 season, and a year that was full of big plays from seniors like Herbert Booker, who was a Mr. Football finalist. The 2018 Wildcats were an explosive bunch offensively, led by the senior signal caller. However, Oak Ridge’s season was cut just two games short of the TSSAA State Championship Game in a loss to Catholic.
Oak Ridge will have a bit of a new look on offense as they descend the stairs onto Blankenship Field this fall, and they’ll look to junior Mitchell Gibbons to lead them at quarterback. With Herbert Booker playing both sides of the football last year, Gibbons did get some opportunities to come in to lead the offense for a series or two from time to time during the 2018 campaign.
Mitchell Gibbons has a very good skill set for a young quarterback. Although he’s not the tallest of player on the field, what he lacks in height he makes up for in football intelligence and mobility. Head coach Joe Gaddis noted the differences in the Wildcats offense you might see on the field this year.
“We might not be quite as much of a big play team this year as we have been in recent years. We may be a little more methodical, and control the clock a little bit more, hopefully,” Gaddis said.
The Wildcats’ offense will likely rely on the running game as well, as they’ve got a deep stable of running backs at Gaddis’ disposal.
“This is their year,” Gaddis mentioned of the team’s twenty two seniors. He also said that the Wildcats will be “perhaps a little stronger than we have been in a couple years. They worked hard.” Up front, Oak Ridge will be extremely experienced, and that’s something that Gaddis hopes will help keep his team mistake free during the 2019 slate. Gaddis also noted that special teams is one area where his team will need to improve upon from the 2018 season.
The team itself won’t be the only “new look” for the fans, though. This past offseason, Blankenship Field was renovated and new turf was laid down. The Wildcats will play on the highly-regarded FieldTurf Revolution 360 surface. This field surface is the same one used by the Seattle Seahawks and the Atlanta Falcons inside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Oak Ridge will open up their season at home against Hardin Valley on Friday, August 23.